Oil of clove

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Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) essential oil in clear glass vial

Oil of clove, also known as clove oil, is an essential oil extracted from the clove plant, Syzygium aromaticum. It has the CAS number 8000-34-8.

Clove oil is a natural analgaesic and antiseptic, used primarily in dentistry for its main ingredient eugenol. It can also be purchased in pharmacies over the counter as a home remedy for dental pain relief, mainly toothache. It is also often found in the aromatherapy section of health food stores, and is used in the flavoring of some medicines. Madagascar and Indonesia are the main producers of clove oil.[1]

Clove oil is used widely in microscopical preparation, as it is miscible with Canada balsam, and has a similar refractive index to glass (1.53).

Oil of clove is also used as an ingredient in cat deterrent sprays, coupled with garlic oil, sodium lauryl sulfate, and other ingredients.


There are three types of clove oil:[1]

  • Bud oil is derived from the flower-buds of S. aromaticum. It consists of 60–90% eugenol, eugenyl acetate, caryophyllene and other minor constituents.
  • Leaf oil is derived from the leaves of S. aromaticum. It consists of 82–88% eugenol with little or no eugenyl acetate, and minor constituents.
  • Stem oil is derived from the twigs of S. aromaticum. It consists of 90–95% eugenol, with other minor constituents.


According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):[2]

Clove oil and eugenol, one of the chemicals it contains, have long been used topically for toothache, but the FDA has reclassified eugenol, downgrading its effectiveness rating. The FDA now believes there isn’t enough evidence to rate eugenol as effective for toothache pain.

In a 2006 study conducted by Kuwait University, researchers concluded that a clove preparation was equally effective as a benzocaine gel when administered as a topical anesthetic for intraoral injections.[3][4]

In Australia, after major flooding throughout Queensland, clove oil mixed with water was used as a spray to kill mold.


Taking in large amounts of cloves or clove oil may cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, burns in the mouth and throat, sore throat, seizures, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, sleepiness, intestinal bleeding, and liver or kidney failure.[4] More serious effects have been reported in young children, even with small doses.[4]

Severe reactions may occur in people with allergy to cloves (about 1.5% of the population).[4]


Clove cigarettes, once somewhat popular in the United States, are now prohibited due to health hazards [4]

In Germany, Commission E permits the sale and administration of clove oil as a medicinal herb.[4][5]


  1. ^ a b Lawless, J. (1995). The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Essential Oils. ISBN 1-85230-661-0. 
  2. ^ "Clove". MedlinePlus. NIH. 
  3. ^ Alqareer, A.; Alyahya, A.; Andersson, L. (2006). "The effect of clove and benzocaine versus placebo as topical anesthetics". Journal of Dentistry 34 (10): 747–50. doi:10.1016/j.jdent.2006.01.009. PMID 16530911. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Cloves". American Cancer Society. Retrieved 2012-05-06. 
  5. ^ Rister, R.; Klein, S.; Riggins, C. (1998-08-15). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines (1st ed.). American Botanical Council. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-9655555-0-0.